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Supreme Court expert: Politics strongly impacts judges' decisions

President Donald Trump shakes the hand of Brett Kavanaugh upon the judge’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court on July 9, 2018 (White House video screenshot)

An analysis of the judiciary by a blogger who covers the U.S. Supreme Court contends President Trump was right when he blamed an “Obama judge” for blocking his plan to protect U.S. borders.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts reacted to Trump’s claiming asserting there are no Trump judges or Obama judges, just independent judges.

But Adam Feldman, who writes about the Supreme Court at Scotusblog, said the differences between “Obama” and “Trump” judges, while sometimes subtle, “can’t be denied.”

“Because politics does in fact play a role in judicial decision-making. This of course comes down to how we define the relationship between politics and judges’ decisions as well as how we define the influence of politics,” he said.

Feldman noted Supreme Court justices rarely comment on political issues, which made the dispute “all the more surprising and powerful.”

Roberts said: “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”

Feldman wrote that the chief justice’s statement “is admirable and his sentiments are predictable, but his analysis overstates the lack of interpersonal differences in the federal judiciary.”

While Roberts was clearly was arguing that lifetime appointments made judges independent of political dependency, “he neglected a more realistic assessment of the relationship between politics and the judicial branch.”

“The nomination and confirmation of federal judges have become more politicized over time, with the recent nomination and confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court representing the most glaring case,” he said.

He pointed out that “preferences that are actually proxied by politics are highly predictive of judges’, and especially Supreme Court justices’, voting decisions.”

“Studies of the relationship between political parties and judges’ decisions go back more than a half century,” Feldman wrote. “Most show the same outcome – that many judges’ votes can be predicted by their political-party affiliation or from the party of the president who appointed them.”

WND reported last month another analysis found 53 of 54 judges appointed by Democratic presidents who ruled on immigration recently have ruled against the Trump administration, indicating the president “wasn’t wrong” when he charged there is clear bias in the judiciary.

“President Trump wasn’t wrong last week when he pointed to an obvious ideological gap between judges nominated by a Democratic president versus those nominated by a Republican – but legal experts said his mistake was in coupling it with such naked criticism of the judiciary,” wrote S.A. Miller and Stephen Dinan in an analysis for the Washington Times.

It was over the last two years that of 54 judges who were nominated by Democrats, 53 ruled against the Trump administration on immigration cases, they noted.

Among Republican-appointed judges, 15 backed the administration, 13 did not.

The Times said its earlier analysis of rulings in Obamacare-related cases “found a split just as striking.”

“More than 90 percent of Democratic-appointed judges backed the Affordable Care Act, while nearly 80 percent of GOP-nominated judges found legal fault with the 2010 law and the way the previous administration carried it out.”

William G. Ross, a professor of law and ethics at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, told the Times that “even though most Americans recognize that judges have political views, there is a basic assumption among many or most Americans that judges ultimately will place the rule of law ahead of politics.”

The Times said there is a “clear break in judicial outcomes based on which president did the appointing” and Roberts has been a part of that.

Last week WND reported the highly partisan Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, praised Roberts for standing up “for an independent judiciary.”

But the senator contradicted himself by noting his disagreement with Roberts’ “partisan,” and “highly political” rulings in Citizens United and other cases.

The president wrote: “Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’ and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country. It would be great if the 9th Circuit was indeed an ‘independent judiciary,’ but if it is why…… are so many opposing view (on Border and Safety) cases filed there, and why are a vast number of those cases overturned. Please study the numbers, they are shocking. We need protection and security – these rulings are making our country unsafe! Very dangerous and unwise!”